12/02/2011 12:23 am ET Updated Jan 31, 2012

December: The College Applications Endurance Test

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

December is a very important month in my college application process, with three critical dates. On December 15, MIT, my first-choice school, mails out its letters of acceptance. December 20 is my personal deadline for submitting all of my college applications. And by December 31, I plan to make a college destination decision based on the letters I receive from rolling admissions and early-action schools. If I don't get into any of these, then my destination probably will be closer to home -- I figure my confidence will waver and I will lean more toward my safety schools. Keeping track of all these dates is important, which is why I have a detailed schedule for everything. I have a work schedule that breaks down all the project tasks I have to complete as part of my internship at Lockheed Martin; a school schedule that combines all of my course syllabi and study times; and a schedule for fun -- yes, I schedule fun.

My schedule for next week is application-free because I have school exams, but the following week it becomes jam-packed with studying, working, and finishing applications. Obviously, some weeks are easier than others, which has helped me learn the importance of maintaining these schedules. They keep me on task and make a hectic lifestyle a lot easier to handle. I have also learned to stay positive and remain calm.

At one point when I was submitting my applications, one of my letters of recommendation almost did not go out because the teacher who wrote it went into labor before she could send it. I panicked, thinking there was no way I could submit my application in time, but my mom was there to calm me down (as moms always seem to be). She suggested I speak with my counselor about the issue, so the next day, I went to her office. I explained the sticky situation, and she managed to get a copy of the letter and send it in one of those fancy overnight envelopes. Mailing out forms and letters is the only part of the application process that can be done "overnight;" the rest is a real endurance test. Even though I have many of my applications submitted, I still have a long way to go before I am completely finished.

December is going to be just as exciting, challenging and nerve-racking as the rest of senior year, but in a different way. The holidays will interfere with school, work, and applications. The Cleveland weather will change my ability to be everywhere and do everything. My schedule will almost certainly change with each new situation, but I know that I will grow tremendously. I will begin to plan my senior prom, decide on a college, and turn 18. December is not only a transition into a new calendar year, but also a transition into a new chapter of my life.